By American Bedu
27 August 2010
Saudi marriages to foreign women are always a hot and controversial subject. Most of the earlier posts which I have written on the subject (approximately 397) have to do with Saudis who marry Western women since that seems to be the norm when ones hear of bi-cultural marriages with a Saudi. Western women in the context of this post are defined here as Americans, Canadians, Brits, Europeans, Malaysia, Australians and Russian. Women from Asian countries in the context of this post are women from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. Asian countries which can be an exception are Japan and Pakistan.
In my own exposure, I am aware of more Saudis who may have taken a Philippine wife as compared to one from other Asian countries as defined above. The Saudi may have met the Philippine woman while he was perhaps in the Philippines working or as a student. In some cases, the initial meeting happens within the Kingdom where the woman has been working at a hospital, education facility or as a domestic servant.
I believe a marriage between a Saudi and an Asian woman can have more cultural challenges than a marriage between a Saudi and a western woman. Regardless of whether an Asian woman has come from a well-known family and is a professional, within Saudi Arabia she will oftentimes be viewed as inferior. She will be viewed by many Saudis as inferior to Saudis and as compared to westerners too.
The Saudi society and in turn, an extended Saudi family, may have a tendency to view the Asian woman more as a domestic worker than as a wife of a Saudi man. A Saudi family will likely expect her to cater and serve them more so than a westerner who has married in to the family. Society in general will often assume that the Asian wife when out in public is the housemaid rather than a wife. Even when she is out with her children, whether the husband is in attendance or not, the initial thought is that she is a housemaid.
Many Saudi men who have taken a Philippine or Indonesian wife already have a Saudi wife.
The children of such unions can find themselves in challenging situations. They may be enrolled in Saudi schools as they are Saudi citizens. Yet the Saudi children can be cruel and let them know they do not belong nor are they accepted. They are made fun of for having different shaped eyes or because they may speak tagalong better than Arabic.
Women from Japan and Pakistan can be exceptions to the overall public perceptions of Saudi/Asian marriages. Perhaps because Japan is viewed more as a first world country whereas many of the other Asian countries are perceived as second or third world countries, there is not the same stigmas attached between a marriage of a Saudi man and a Japanese woman. Pakistan is a third world country yet there have always been close and deep ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. As a result, there has been greater acceptance of unions between Pakistanis and Saudis. Also, there is little concern of a difference in faiths.
As with any bi-cultural relationship with a Saudi, regardless of nationality, it is strongly urged that a marriage does not take place unless knowing the background and family of the Saudi man. No woman should enter into a marriage with a man from another culture without having had exposure to his family, his country and his traditions.